Broken Cisterns and Living Water

A friend, Judy, recently texted me about a video she watched on the Bible story of the Woman At The Well. Since this story has captured my heart deeply, and I’ve got a collaged art book in the process of being published on the subject, I asked for a link to the video. I enjoy finding out new things about any Bible story; each story is so multi-faceted. I don’t think any of us can exhaust finding treasures in just about any Biblical narrative. But this one, well, it’s very special to me.

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The teacher in the video, Lysa Turkheurst, was standing right in front of the famous well – Jacob’s Well. It is now within a plastered and fresco decorated room, religious paintings hanging all around, I guess for tourists. It was nice to see the real well, or cistern, for myself. It sure did not look like the well in my arid desert scene in my collaged book! However, Lysa explained cisterns in a way I had never understood before. Cisterns had to be plastered in order to really hold water and be a well. If the plaster cracked, then the water could leak out. Cisterns needed constant upkeep so the water wouldn’t leak out.

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Jacob’s Well where Jesus and the Samaritan woman met.

Jesus offers the woman “Living Water” springing up to eternal life. His offer is so radically different from an old well that constantly needs patching! He’s offering a spring of flowing water, not a well that can crack, leak and constantly remain on one’s repair list. This information greatly helps in understanding Jesus’ offer to the woman, and this gem of a verse in Jeremiah: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 Had she heard that verse? Was she putting it all together?

I had made the woman, with a collaged dress, that looks like it has holes, because I wanted to speak of her holes or the broken places in her heart. She was trying to fill her holes with many relationships. This way of life is her “broken cistern” she’s been trying to plaster over.  Jesus doesn’t want to plaster over her holes, but wants to captivate her heart with an entirely transformative strategy – springs of living water.

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There is just so much in this epic love story. How kind of God to gently show me yet another facet to His planned encounter with the woman at the well!

And, it’s making me think about the cisterns in my life. When I spend hours and hours in bed resting because of the chemo pill, I cry out to God to be my spring of Living Water, or where I find my source of life. I sense His closeness in new ways as I drift in and out of sleep. When I get up and start moving, almost immediately there is a temptation to find my source of life in my doing. Making a painting. Collaging a new book. Getting a project going. Fighting cancer with a new and different smoothie.  I’m so American! My worth gets all entangled with doing something. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do, it just will not satisfy my deepest longings for love, worth and value by putting hope for those in my doing. 

Then, I end up back in bed, and I lie there calling out to God. I’m spending eternity with Him, so perhaps many hours with Him, in and out of sleep, before I pass on, may be just where He wants me.

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Deeper Roots

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Well Watered Trees, Watercolor in Nicaragua, Marcia Carole

The past couple of days have been resting days, yet again. I’m off the chemo pill this week, so it makes no sense that I am so weak. Maybe I picked up yet another virus? All I can do is lean into resting, yet again today.  While I lie in bed, I often listen to a number of teachers, who help me to think about my faith. Today, I spent a bit of time with a teacher in Jeremiah 2, in the Old Testament.

“Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.” Jeremiah 2:19.

What was the underlying problem for God’s people? No awe of God, no reverence or holy fear of God. So, I got to thinking….In my moments of sin, I am not in awe of God, but of something else – maybe my comfort or happiness or pleasure or success or my reputation. I do think, as a Jesus follower, the Holy Spirit prompts us to keep away from malice, envy, bitterness, all the sins mentioned in 1 Peter,etc. but we don’t always heed God’s promptings. I think, at that moment, what we/I treasure or what we are in awe of, directs our actions, thoughts, words.

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Well Watered Tree Bearing Fruit, Watercolor, Marcia Carole

As I have spent, and continue to spend, so much time lying in bed, resting, seemingly doing nothing… the Lord is working away. He has repeatedly convicted me of my sins over the years, lovingly prodding away at my lack of awe-led obedience moments, for so many years, in so many situations. I weep hot tears with Him when I think of my lack of obedience and head-strong actions. I ask His forgiveness and mercy for choosing: comfort, pleasure or happiness over obedience, as I endlessly nap.

These are dark, hard, hard days of destroying cancer cells, and, sigh, some good cells, too. However, I imagine these are golden days in tearing down lesser things taking my worship while building up my God-awe, by my confessing sin/rebellion, in so many hidden corners He is revealing in my soul. Then, He is building God-awe in those torn down places. My only hope is in knowing I am that tree (Psalm 1) God planted in streams of living water, with my roots digging down deeper than they’ve ever had to go before. And it’s truly painful. However, my awe-filled soul roots, can be in nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness. God is making certain of that.

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Psalm 1 Tree, Watercolor, Marcia Carole

God, Art, Cancer, Friends

We must always have an imagination for the grace that will meet us. – Kara Tippetts

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I’ve been living in a new town for about 10 months. I chose to rent out my house in Seattle, leave wonderfully caring friends who walked with me through chemo, fighting for life, and so much more. I drove away, with all my worldly goods (with the help of two of those friends) from a growing art ministry – in order to share life with my beautiful daughter, her husband and their three boys, my grandsons, and hang with another terrific, lovely daughter and her fiancé, for two years. I have stage 4 breast cancer, and I really wanted the time with my daughters and all the extended family. And, I wanted to be a help to them while I am strong.

Finding a friend here has not happened. You know, the sharing life, and I have your back kind of friend. (The kind of friend who loves you through your mistakes and cheers you on wildly during your good moments.) Art ministry for me has not happened, either. Interestingly, I’ve had no real connections for the work I do – helping women share their stories through art. So, one night in February, when I was lying in bed with two solid weeks of the why not just die and get it over with flu, I asked God for one, just one tiny connection, in my new church.

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Painting at the concert.

Out of the blue, well, I suppose not in God’s mind, I received an email from someone in my church, asking me to join a team of creatives going to Romania. I can use art in sharing my faith. What? Who are these people? Within a couple of days, my face is on a poster describing the trip to Romania, and before you know it, I am painting during a Passion of Christ concert, in the front of the church, (where I have made zero friends) and I am selling my art cards and prints after the concert to raise funds for the Romania trip.

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The piece from the concert. I’ll tweak it, and try to sell it to raise funds for the Romania trip. 
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Ready to sell art cards and prints after the concert.

As I am shaking hands with tons of folks who say they love my work, I am secretly marveling at what God created that night. I’d say He gets the credit for bringing folks from my new church directly in contact with me, my art, my passion for sharing Jesus all over the world, and for answering that tiny prayer during the flu for one little connection at my new church. AND, as usual, He made sure it wasn’t tiny. That night, He even had me meet a young woman who is a mehndi artist in Denver  – ever since my time in India I love painting in the mehndi style to share God’s story. Meeting her was like the bow on top of God’s present to me.

Which brings me to the quote I started with above. “We must always have an imagination for the grace that will meet us.” – Kara Tippetts. Kara, a young mom of four, pastor’s wife, amazing joy-filled, kind person whose blog I have been so blessed to read each day, just passed into eternity from stage four breast cancer. Even in her leaving, she encouraged me, through her words, to have the imagination that God and His grace would meet me in my hard – as she would call it, lonely time here in Colorado Springs.

11108834_871930726202070_2191092379874666262_nWith God, the need He created in me for friends, for ministry, for passion for sharing Jesus, will be met by His grace. In the meantime, I’m learning how to be more sensitive to lonely people. His timing is for His glory, not mine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Romania poster.

If you’d like to support the trip to Romania, You may donate here:ROMANIA